Dallas has always had an impressive landscape of female entrepreneurs. From Jamie O’Banion’s Allure-approved BeautyBio to Suzy Batiz’s Poo-Pourri empire, several Dallas-bred brands have become household names across the country. But even some of the longest running small business successes were no match for a global pandemic.
Take, for instance, the Akola Project, and 15-year-old Dallas brand sold at Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Nordstrom that employs hundreds of at risk women in Uganda. When the pandemic hit the U.S., founder Brittany Merrill Underwood knew she needed to secure additional retail channels. A chance FaceTime call with another female entrepreneur, Miracle Milkookies’ Whitney Rowell — both women have young kids that asked to see each other during lockdown — inspired an idea.
“That’s really where the idea for HerStory came from — a FaceTime call for two preschoolers,” says Underwood’s equally entrepreneurial sister Tinsley Merrill (founder of experiential marketing platform Pairr), who joined forces with the duo to launch the Dallas-based service.
“We all hopped on a call and were like, ‘What if we created a box of sorts where people could choose to support small businesses — particularly female-led small businesses — who have so much overhead and inventory?’” Merrill recalls. They reached out to 15 different female-led brands in Dallas and Austin. “It wasn’t even like a, ‘tell us more’ situation. It was just, ‘How can we get involved? How can we sell our inventory?’”
Within a week, 10 brands with strong followings had signed on to be in a HerStory box, 100 of which had already been sold. Those who purchased the “small biz box” could choose full-sized products from Beauty Bio, (“Jamie O’Banion has really been behind us from the start,” Merrill says), along with Catherine Lowe’s luxe LoweCo. Stationery, a Mi Golondrina headband, seasonal herbs from Gardenuity, “super deals” on items like Miron Crosby’s bespoke cowboy boots (which practically never go on sale), and a virtual membership to Dallas-based boutique gym Grit by Brit. The box is priced at $149, though the value comes out to around $500.
“It’s super luxury. You’re getting three large products,” Merrill says. “The idea isn’t just to curate another box with things you’ll never use, but to find brands and products you’ll love.”
View this post on Instagram
We just delivered to our first 100 customers and received an overwhelming response of joy, hope and support 💕 We are all going through something during this uncertain time. This box is not only the perfect gift for Mother’s Day, Graduation or a birthday – but a pick me up or thinking of you present that can change someone’s day, week or year ✨ – – – – #supportherstory #herstory #graduationgift #graduationgifts #ridealto #ridealtopartner #migolondrina #akola #beautybio #shopkellywynne #kellywynne #buildabox #subscriptionbox #miraclemilkookies #gardenuity #thinkingofyou #giftbox
The women got HerStory up and running at a record pace, and teamed up with Alto to ensure boxes were delivered in time for Mother’s Day. Next, they’ll spread the small business love nationwide, highlighting new brands each month — you’ll be able to buy a “New York Box” in June, an Atlanta-themed box in July, and support female-led brands in California come August. But HerStory will always have a “Texas Box,” which will feature a rotating selection of brands, in addition to Dallas staples like Akola Project jewelry, Beauty Bio skincare, and Miracle Milkookies.
“Britney and I had always talked about starting a business together someday, but this all happened so organically,” Merrill says. “It’s hilarious because all three of us have these full-time, crazy startup jobs, but on top of that we decided, hmm, let’s add another one!”